The Christian Coalition of Iowa — a powerful, faith-based group linked to the Republican party — has adopted a new name: the Iowa Christian Alliance. The group’s president, Steve Scheffler, made the announcement last night during an event in Urbandale that attracted about five-hundred of the group’s members. “God has said opened so many doors for us and we know that he’s going to open a lot more for us in the years to come,” Scheffler told the crowd.
The national Christian Coalition was founded in 1988 by televangelist Pat Robertson but has become mired in controversy over the past few years, including a long-running dispute over the group’s tax-exempt status and thousands upon thousands of dollars in unpaid bills. In addition, the national group’s president got the Christian Coalition in the middle of a divorce case when she hired her daughter and son-in-law to work on her staff, then fired him when her daughter sought a divorce.
Scheffler says the Iowa Christian Coalition’s board of directors decided it was time to make a break. “Due to certain situations…the board members of this organization found it impossible to continue to carry a name that in any way associated us with this national organization,” Scheffler says. He says the national organization got “shrouded in perceptions contrary to its Christian” mission, and that’s why the Iowa group decided to become independent and change its name. “We are honored to be serving the Lord in a conscious effort to develop the integrity and the leadership needed to guide our fellow citizens towards the traditional values on which our national strength and survival depends,” Scheffler says.
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, the keynote speaker at last night’s Christian Alliance event, says people of faith have the right to be heard, just like any other American taxpayer. “The public square is in this country a place where every person, regardless of his or her faith, background, ethnicity, should be able to feel free not only to just vote to be vocal,” Huckabee says.
He says many Christian believers of the past were reluctant to speak out. “They sort of said church things are kept in church, and that’s still true but that doesn’t mean that church people shouldn’t be involved in shaping public policy,” Huckabee says. Huckabee, who is a Baptist minister, was the youngest-ever president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. He entered politics in 1993 and became the governor of Arkansas in 1996.
Huckabee says he finds it easy to talk about his personal faith, which he says has been life-changing. “I can’t impose that on other people and use a political office to impose that through the law but to the degree to which I can be honest about who I am and what makes me tick, I think that’s appropriate,” he says. Huckabee is now laying the groundwork for a campaign for president.